For Fatburger, Lahore's ‘flagship' Outlet Will Be A Trendsetter

Sunday, May 26, 2013

LAHORE: Fatburger a Santa Monica, California-based hamburger chain is set to cash in the fast food boom in Pakistan as it seeks to open its biggest flagship outlet globally on June 1 in Lahore.

In January, Fatburger's franchiser BIL Foods entered the Pakistani market in the midst of the fast food boom and opened its first outlet in an upmarket Karachi mall.

For the second outlet the hamburger chain selected MM Alam Road, a prime and central location for restaurants in Lahore, as the management says it had moulded its plan according to the lifestyle enjoyed by the people in the city.

For Fatburger, the outlet will be a landmark as the hamburger chain believes that the Pakistani fast food market is in its infancy due to limited choices.

"Pakistan's urban population is growing; six major cities represent 30% of the total population of the country, of which merely 10% go for fast food. This figure can easily go up to 40% in the next four years," said Amer Kamal, CEO of BIL Foods, in an interview with The Express Tribune.

Kamal does not seem to worry about the competition in the Pakistani industry where KFC, McDonald and Hardees already operate and Johnny Rockets Group is set to open stores this year.

In fact, Kamal was looking to cover all bases by introducing a variety of products as in the case of Fatburger.

In the modern world, people prefer to have one meal in a restaurant which is usually fast food. In Pakistan, the picture is not so different but the fast food industry gets a minor share of customers as majority of the people opt for Pakistani cuisine, Kamal said.

Fatburger believes that people who dine out also need entertainment and that is why the chain offers live cooking for the orders.

"In Lahore, dining out is more of a lifestyle for Lahoris than fashion or status symbol. It is a city filled with food lovers where per capita food consumption is higher than in Karachi, and this is the major reason why we decided to open our flagship outlet right here," Kamal said.

The outlet will also have a separate space to accommodate parties, birthdays and other events. Above all, we have decided to provide a special space for corporate meetings in the complex to redefine the fast food culture in Pakistan, he said.

But despite the huge potential of the Pakistani fast food market, Fatburger was not interested in increasing the number of outlets across urban centres of Pakistan.

"We cannot open 20 outlets in quick successions as we believe it might affect the quality of our products, which we don't want. The maximum number could touch is probably 10, and that too after the acceptance of the brand." The franchiser BIL Foods has planned to open a total of five restaurants in Pakistan with a total investment of Rs700 million. After the second outlet in Lahore, the chain will open one store in Islamabad this year and two more next year in Faisalabad and Lahore.

The company has so far spent Rs400 million to establish the two restaurants, of which Rs250 million were spent on the Lahore outlet. The chain employs 150 people in the two outlets.

Talking about pricing of the meals and combos, Kamal said that the Fatburger prices its products 15% higher than its competition in Pakistan. Internationally, meals and combos are priced 40% higher.

"Prices in Pakistan are subpar despite the fact that we are importing each and every item." Fatburger's management expect to touch Rs2 million sales on its opening day in Lahore compare to Rs1.2 million generated on inauguration of its Karachi outlet.

"The first day in Lahore will tell us the future trend of the brand, and we are hopeful that Fatburger will become a prestigious name in Lahore just like we are in Karachi."

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